Saturday, April 10, 2021

‘Live respected and die regretted’

     
Associated Press
Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, Earl of Merioneth, Baron Greenwich, died yesterday at Windsor Castle, just two months shy of his hundredth birthday.


Rather than try to compete with, or expand on, the many eulogies and other good thoughts prompted by the death yesterday of Bro. Philip Mountbatten, I think it best to forward to you Bro. David Staples’ summation, as expressed to the BBC earlier today.



Staples is the Grand Secretary of the United Grand Lodge of England.

     

Thursday, April 8, 2021

‘Bringing the Dead Sea Scrolls to life’

     


I had a feeling the recent discovery of Dead Sea Scrolls fragments would inspire more Lawrence Schiffman lectures, and so it has.

Register here.
     

Tuesday, April 6, 2021

‘Blue Lodge, the Masonic video game’

     
Courtesy Three Lights Studio


I know nothing of video games, gaming, that whole culture, but let me tell you about Blue Lodge, the new game for Freemasons. It was rolled out recently, and what I find interesting is how it is tiled—as in off limits to the public.

What a concept.

As the player, you become Adam, a young Entered Apprentice, who journeys forth to become a Master Mason, but to play, your grand lodge first must contact Three Lights Studio to enroll and join this gaming community.

I wonder if the creators thought that through. I mean, I see resistance by grand lodges to support the GWMNM’s digitization project, and that service is somewhat self-serving for the grand lodges. But I digress.

Click here to read more about it. And here’s a well made, if not exactly informative, video:

     

Tuesday, March 30, 2021

‘Two Sages: Hall and Jung’

     
The Philosophical Research Society offers an online discussion that will address two thinkers who contributed mightily to the twentieth century refinement of esoteric thought. From the publicity:




Manly Palmer Hall
and Carl Gustav Jung:
the Story and Message
of Two Sages
Presented by Stephan A. Hoeller
of the PRS
Thursday, April 29
10 p.m. Eastern Time
Reservations here

Philosopher Manly Palmer Hall and visionary psychologist Carl Gustav Jung both revived the Esoteric Tradition. The future republication of Hall’s work The Secret Teachings of All Ages, and the recent publication of Jung’s Black Books (amplifying his Red Book) call attention to the contributions of these two sages.

Stephan A. Hoeller was Manly P. Hall’s principal lecturing associate at PRS for more than twenty years. He is a noted scholar and lecturer on Gnosticism and the message of C.G. Jung. He is the author of five books, and is president of Besant Lodge of the Theosophical Society in Hollywood.
     

Sunday, March 28, 2021

‘Never gonna do it without the fez on’

Today, I finally make a point to sit down and watch D.W. Young’s documentary from last year The Booksellers. A few minutes in, a dealer of, what he calls, esoteric books is on camera. Didn’t catch his name.

     


Another National Grotto Day is in the books. At Azim, sixteen new Prophets received the mysteries of the Order in what was a fairly well attended ceremony, all things considered. I was genuinely moved by the atrociousness of the occasion.

I’ll have to update this edition of The Magpie Mason with photos when they become available later. We were enjoined from photographing, but an official photographer was on hand, and our Facebook page will have the evidence soon.

UPDATE:
Okay, okay. I’ll volunteer to be the photographer next time.


One additional great moment came when a lifetime achievement award was presented to Prophet Leon Weinstein in thanks especially for his keeping Azim alive years ago when all seemed lost. Then in 2010, this Grotto was revived by the arrival of a new generation, so the boos and hollers of Sympathy and Good Fellowship shall reverberate throughout Masonic Hall for future Veiled Prophets.

I had the chance to attend one of the Zoom conferences hosted during the winter in preparation for today’s nationwide event, and one of the facts I took away from the conversation is the awe in which Azim is regarded across the Enchanted Realm. Grottoes throughout the country are looking to New York City to learn how it’s done. Of course you’d expect that in any case, but it’s nice to hear.
   

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

‘History in Tennessee’

     
Courtesy Amazon
A new chapter in the history of Freemasonry in Tennessee was started today when the voting members of the Grand Lodge of Tennessee agreed it is time to extend the fraternal hand to their neighbors of the MW Prince Hall Grand Lodge.

The two have coexisted since 1870. Details, like visitation, are not yet settled.

Congratulations everybody!

There remain six U.S. grand lodges that have yet to establish relations with Prince Hall Masonry.

Many thanks to Oscar for spreading the good news.
     

Monday, March 22, 2021

‘The ALR and YOU’

     

No kidding, I was just about to post a Do You Know Where The ALR Is? edition of The Magpie Mason, in hopes of learning from someone if it still is at labor, when I unexpectedly see the above notice in the new issue of The Empire State Mason.

I emailed a reply to the address provided, and I encourage you to do likewise.

Masonic education has a very limited appeal, unfortunately, and lodges of research are an even narrower niche, but I want to think Freemasonry in Manhattan can sustain a research lodge. Maybe we can.

If my email receives an informative reply, I’ll let you know. Actually, I’ll let you know either way.
     

Sunday, March 21, 2021

‘An Ode to the Freemasons’

     


Today is World Poetry Day. Poet Maria Matuscak penned the following verse, which was read aloud by the Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Canada in the Province of Ontario one day in 2017 on the occasion of a cornerstone ceremony there.


An Ode
to the Freemasons,
Gathered Here Today

Walk onward, brothers, arm-in-arm
towards the giants rising in your midst. Together you form a chain
……..which will ensure the monsters of poverty and intolerance
……..your line taught, unyielding to the false gods
…………..that feed the starving masses in your streets. For you
care not
Who is the Creator,
…….God or Man: the goal is simply to strive.
For you hold, you hold tight
And dear you are stone
And one of you cannot sink if his brothers hold him tight.
Whom but God could wrench the wounded man
……from your embrace? And you march forward,
……toward an ever-receding horizon, but the point is:
………..you march.
……………..And you do not stop.
……………..And those who cannot march on their own accord
……….you carry,
And the cornerstone too weighs upon your shoulders,
The one you brought with you here, today,
The one you set down as a reminder,
That one bears the weight of the whole,
That there may or may not be a final stair
…….but still you keep climbing
…….because the rain falls with equal benediction on you all.



Click here to see an interview with Ms. Matuscsk.
     

Thursday, March 18, 2021

‘Bro. PacMan’

    
Courtesy Mamamayang Pilipino Lodge (UD)


Philippine Senator Emmanuel Dapidran Paquiao has been made a Freemason, having received the Entered Apprentice Degree in Mamamayang Pilipino Lodge (UD) in the Phillipines.

Bro. EA Paquiao is known worldwide as Manny “PacMan” Paquiao, the devastating prize fighter who set multiple records in championship boxing in an amazing career that spanned almost 25 years.

In 2016, he was elected to his nation’s Senate as a member of the majority Philippine Democratic Party-People’s Power, which was cofounded in 1983 by Benigno Aquino (who, you may recall, was murdered that year in the event that spelled the end of the Marcos regime).

PacMan is retired from boxing, but I wouldn’t want to be a Ruffian in his Third Degree.

Freemasonry in the Philippines has inauspicious origins in the mid eighteenth century due to friction between British colonists who were Masons and the Spanish Roman Catholic authorities. It played out pretty much as you would expect with the latter harassing, jailing, and deporting the former. The Spanish government banned Freemasonry several times in the early nineteenth century. In later decades, Portuguese and German Masons were able to establish lodges, and in 1876 the Grand Orient of Spain made a provincial grand lodge, and so the fraternity was cemented in the country.

The Spanish-American War resulted in the Philippines coming under U.S. control, which was hugely beneficial to Freemasonry there, as grand lodges in California, Scotland, and elsewhere began establishing lodges.

The Grand Lodge of the Philippines was founded in 1912. Naturally its fortunes were shaped by the Second World War, but it flourishes today. In addition, there are thriving lodges of ethnic Filipinos in New York, New Jersey, and elsewhere in the United States.
     

Wednesday, March 17, 2021

‘Cryptic Rite Festival this fall’

       


The Cryptic Rite companions of New York, Connecticut, and Massachusetts will gather for a day of degrees this October on the Hudson. (This is rescheduled from May 8.)

From the publicity:


Tri-State
Cryptic Festival
Saturday, October 9, 2021
Saugerties Masonic Temple

Royal Master Degree by Connecticut.
Select Master by Massachusetts.
Super Excellent Master by New York.


I haven’t seen Super Excellent since I received it 20 years ago. Looking forward to this!

To paraphrase Churchill, who was opining on something completely unrelated, “I would let the clever Masons learn Royal Arch as an honor, and Cryptic as a treat.”
     

Monday, March 15, 2021

‘National Grotto Day is near!’

     

National Grotto Day is approaching, but there is still time for you—well, maybe not you—to join Azim, the Most Handsome Grotto in the Realm!

The Mystic Order of Veiled Prophets of the Enchanted Realm is one of the many Masonic groups founded in the State of New York. Sure its primary activities run along the lines of seeing how many guys in gorilla suits can fit inside McSorley’s, but there also is a sincere humanitarian effort at the cause of it all. I personally recommend Grotto membership, seeing it as the perfect complement to the enlightening work of the Lodge and the numinous quality of the Chapter.

We’re doing it at Masonic Hall in Manhattan on Saturday the 27th. Yours truly will be the Chaplain in the life-changing ceremony. 

Click here for the petition. Fill it out (especially the felony part) and send it here

     

Saturday, March 13, 2021

‘Ancient York’s sesquicentenary’

     


Three months from today, Ancient York Lodge 89 in New Hampshire will commemorate its sesquicentennial anniversary with what looks like a fantastic celebratory program. From the publicity:


Sunday, June 13 at 2 p.m.
150th Anniversary Celebration

The program for the afternoon includes:

Reconsecration ceremony conducted by the officers of the Grand Lodge of New Hampshire, F&AM.

Presentation by the Nashua Historical Society on Nashua in the 1870s.

Lodge history presentation by the officers and brethren of Ancient York Lodge.

Presentation by Worshipful Brother Christopher Murphy, Masonic lecturer, Past Master of Fibonacci Lodge 112 in Vermont, and Fellow of the Philalethes Society.

Music by Worshipful Brother Joseph Olefirowicz, world-renowned conductor and Minister of Music at First Church in Nashua.

And more!


Of course there will be a very special dinner, and that will incur a dining fee, so please reserve for that in advance here.
    

‘Salon de la Rose+Croix’

     


The Chancellor Robert R. Livingston Masonic Library of the Grand Lodge of New York continues its virtual programming this month with its third annual Salon de la Rose+Croix. From the publicity:


Salon de la Rose+Croix
Thursday, March 25
7 p.m. RSVP here

This month we are proud to present the third annual Salon de la Rose+Croix, featuring Tony Crisos, Adina Dabija, and Milosz Jeziorski live on our YouTube channel. The evening will begin with a short lecture on the history and philosophical value of the Golden Fleece through existing literature and archaeological findings followed by a poetry reading by Dabija, and concluding with a presentation on esoteric art by Jeziorski.
     

Thursday, March 11, 2021

‘Brent Morris to retire’

     
S. Brent Morris
I wouldn’t want you to be caught unawares, thinking it’s some April Fools prank, so with his blessing I share the news that S. Brent Morris is retiring from his employment situation at the Scottish Rite at the end of the month. The details will be discussed in Issue 52 (Spring 2021) of The Journal of the Masonic Society, which is at the printer now and will reach our members next month.

Don’t panic. Brent will remain active in the Masonic fraternity! He’s your Brother Mason. He just won’t be in the official management and the de facto spokesman of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite, Southern Jurisdiction. He has served as editor of The Scottish Rite Journal and as strategic communications director for the Jurisdiction for many years.

Let’s be honest: the grand masters and other politicians come and go, but it is the steadying hand of experience, governed by wisdom and knowledge, that leads us for the long term.

His successor, Bro. Mark Dreisonstok, has been in place already. I’m told part of the institutional knowledge Brent has imparted is a reminder to consult both this blog and the other one each morning to see what’s going on in this fraternity. Mark holds a Ph.D. from Georgetown University, where he specialized in medieval languages and literature, and has taught at many universities in the DC area. You may have read him in a number of Masonic periodicals and area newspapers.

Bro. Brent says he will take with him a portfolio of responsibilities—things he loves doing, such as editing the Scottish Rite Research Society’s annual Heredom, and the offerings of the recently revived Masonic Book Club. (The first of which, come to think of it, will reach us members in a couple of weeks.)

Brent is in his fiftieth year as a Freemason, and it wouldn’t be easy to enumerate the many stations and places in our fraternity where he has been an inspiring exemplar. Of course, he is a Founding Fellow of the Masonic Society. And a Past Master of Quatuor Coronati Lodge 2076–the first American to be such. Grand Abbott of the Blue Friars. Naturally, a 33rd Degree Mason and holder of the Grand Cross in the real Scottish Rite.

He was made a Fellow of the Philalethes Society in 1980. Get it? Brent was made a Mason in 1971, and was elected to join the forty Philalethes Fellows nine years later.

The Masonic credentials and accolades go on almost endlessly. (Oh, and he wrote and co-wrote a bunch of books, including Committed to the Flames and this handy book.) Outside the apartments of the Temple, Brent holds a Mathematics Ph.D. from Duke. He labored as the Executive of the Cryptologic Mathematician Program of the National Security Agency, and has taught mathematics and computer science at Duke and Johns Hopkins. His affiliations in the math world are as impressive and numerous as his Masonic ties.

If you know him, you know of his expertise with card tricks—in essence, another manifestation of mathematics. He even wrote a book on that.

(None of the other tributes to Brent Morris you’ll see will include this obscure trivia, but way back in the first decade of the century, when Masonic cyberspace was primitive and small, one of the little rascals who constantly made a spectacle of himself with his various frauds called Brent names in such a bizarre outburst, I laughed so hard, the bowl of my Peterson 302 popped off its stem and tumbled down my shirt, the burning tobacco ruining everything in its path.)

I have pleasant memories of meeting him for the first time at a nearby Masonic dinner in 2007, and other “experiences” too.

Best wishes to you, Bro. Brent! Thank you for what you have given Freemasonry. (The retirement bash better look like something Leo Taxil would throw.) I hope to shake your hand again soon.
     

Wednesday, March 10, 2021

‘Wednesday arts update’

    
Six items for you in tonight’s arts update.

  • Bro. Ryan Flynn recently put the finishing touch on his greatly anticipated portrait of Bro. Prince Hall.


If you have been following his progress on this via social media, you could feel justifiably amazed by his balance of creativity and respect for his subject. There is no way to know exactly what Hall looked like, so Flynn instead rendered contextual elements to tell the story. Items depicted in the foreground and background and, of course, Hall’s regalia and gavel tell a remarkable life story with a veracity you can count on.

Prints are available for purchase now. Click here.


  • Bro. Erik LaMarca, of Kosciuszko Lodge 1085 and Shakespeare 750, is the subject of the recent Craftsmen Online, one of a number of digital magazines serving New York Freemasonry.

LaMarca’s photography will be on exhibit next month at Solas Studio in a show titled “Revelation: Sight Through Symetry.” Click here to enjoy a look at a few pieces.


  • Bro. Scott J. Watson’s latest venture into art history conducts us to a lodge in eighteenth century Vienna. Mozart’s lodge, specifically.

I’m sure we’ve all seen the painting showing the great composer seated in lodge. I’ve used it here on The Magpie Mason a number of times over the years.


Watson explains what goes on in the image, and one thing particularly zapped me. Watson has us cast our eyes to the East, where hangs a painting I somehow never before thought about.

Let Royal Ark Mariners who have ears hear. And click here. Sign up for his newsletter too.


  • There is a mural decorating downtown Mt. Vernon, Ohio that will make every Mystic Prophet smile:

Courtesy Marty Trent

Unveiled (See what I did there?) in November 2017, but brought to the Prophets’ attention a few days ago in social media, It is painted on the side of the former Masonic hall in the neighborhood, and is a tribute to the groups that contributed to the local social scene. The nearly 3,000-square-foot piece was painted by John Donnelly, an art professor at Mount Vernon Nazarene University.


  • I had intended to post something about this last year, but when I saw the Wall Street Journal had beaten me to it, I kind of forgot about it.  Rothko Chapel, the landmark ecumenical spiritual space in Houston, has reopened, following a $30 million renovation that took almost a year.

The rehabilitation was mostly structural in nature, with the building being bolstered to withstand the hurricanes the region receives. Mark Rothko’s 14 paintings arrayed throughout the chapel now benefit from a new central skylight and modern interior lighting. On the grounds without the chapel, the landscape has been stripped of all sights except for Barnett Newman’s Broken Obelisk, the crystal-shaped shaft perched atop a pyramid that arises from a reflecting pool. Dedicated to Martin Luther King, Jr. in 1971, the artwork symbolizes the chapel’s purpose as a human rights locus.

Rothko Chapel marks its fiftieth anniversary this year. Click here for photos.


  • And, finally—I can’t do this all night, you know—is the latest from Piecework magazine, which contains a brief article on aprons.

“Unfortunately for historians, makers of aprons did not sign their work,” writes Deborah Dwyer. “Newspapers of the period advertised professional embroiderers specializing in military and Masonic regalia; sign painters offered painted aprons, and stationers supplied engraved ones. Undoubtedly, family members made some aprons as gifts.”

Read all about it here.
     

Wednesday, March 3, 2021

‘The province in Freemasonry’

     
Courtesy Freemasonry Today
Bro. Aubrey Newman
The next speaker coming in the Open Lectures on Freemasonry series will be Bro. Aubrey Newman!

Practically a legend in the Craft, Newman is one of those eminent figures who make me wonder how they get it all done. The Past Junior Grand Deacon is a Past Master of Quatuor Coronati 2076 and a Past (2003) Prestonian Lecturer. He received the rare Order of Service to Masonry in 2017, at age 90, having been selected by HRH the Duke of Kent, Grand Master of the United Grand Lodge of England, himself.

Also, I think Newman was with us in the Masonic Light group years ago. I’ll have to check with Josh on that.

His subject on Saturday, March 20 at 2 p.m. Eastern Time will be “The Place of the Province in Freemasonry,” something that has been central to Newman’s research for many years.

Visit Open Lectures on Freemasonry here.

Bro. Oscar Alleyne’s lecture from Saturday is on YouTube:



     

Tuesday, March 2, 2021

‘A Craft lodge for craft beer lovers?’

     
I think it’s safe to say some Freemasons occasionally express some curiosity about beer, yes? There are even those who diligently pursue a practical knowledge! Possibly an atavistic impulse from our tavern days.

Why, in my own understanding of Masonic theory, the talk of the sheaf of grain above the waterfall is an allusion to the alchemy of beer-brewing itself. (I’m still trying to confirm that with the grand lecturer.)

The Masonic Craft Beer Society, located in the United Kingdom, began during the bleakest days of the pandemic last year when five Masons found each other in social media, and bonded over their appreciation for beers and ales. Today, they are joined by thousands more, and there now is talk of possibly establishing a lodge.

Where might such a lodge be set to labor (and called to refreshment)? I don’t know, but the MCBS gives a physical address in Torquay (which is the site of a certain mythical inn).

Read all about it here.

The Brother Junior Warden may have his hands full.
    

Monday, March 1, 2021

‘Architecture order demolished’

     
J. Edgar Hoover Building, Washington, DC. Is there a reason why the headquarters of the FBI has to resemble some Eastern Bloc state security ministry?


Executive Order 13967 has been demolished, razed, bulldozed, etc.

That was the document signed in December by then President Donald Trump for the purpose of resetting standards of aesthetics in the designs of certain future federal government buildings. It would have given preference to Classical styles over the shit we have that, for example, looks like it was transplanted from 1972 East Berlin.

Oh well. It was a good idea. (Based on what I’ve seen on social media, I realize that some of you don’t understand how it’s about national identity. The public buildings created for us are expressions of who we are. So, when the architecture looks like it has been copied from a science fiction movie about dystopia, it negates the esteem in which we ought to regard ourselves, and that contributes to the many forms of social collapse we are witnessing every day.)

Background here and here.
    

Sunday, February 28, 2021

‘Jacob is ’21 Sankey Lecturer’

     

The prestigious annual Sankey Lecture in Ontario is reverting to its customary schedule this spring with a highly promising event to be streamed live.

Professor Margaret Jacob, who deserves a fair share of the credit for the 21st century revival of interest in Freemasonry, will take to the lectern four weeks from today.

Jacob is the author of The Radical Enlightenment: Pantheists, Freemasons and Republicans (1981); Living the Enlightenment: Freemasonry and Politics in Eighteenth Century Europe (1991); The Origins of Freemasonry: Facts and Fictions (2005); and others.

The graphic above has the particulars. Click here to attend.
     

Thursday, February 25, 2021

‘From Taverns to Temples’

     
Courtesy historical-markers.org


And, speaking of Masonic meeting places in early America (see post below), there will be an online presentation Saturday afternoon that promises to be historically interesting.

W. Bro. Mike Comfort, director of the Masonic Library and Museum of Pennsylvania, will discuss “From Taverns to Temples: Homes of the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania since 1731.”

From the publicity:


Saturday, February 27
3:30 p.m. Eastern
Free—click here

“From Taverns to Temples” is an illustrated presentation on each of the different locations in Philadelphia used for meetings of the Grand Lodge from its inception in 1731 until the present. The paintings and photos show what was once there and what is there now, narrated with other historical and Masonic information.

W. Mike Comfort, PM, Melita Lodge 295 in Philadelphia, is the director of the Masonic Library and Museum of Pennsylvania. A Temple University graduate (B.A. Journalism) he has been a lifelong devotee of historical and genealogical research. He currently serves an advisor to both the History Committee and the Committee on Native American Regalia, Boy Scouts of America, an organization he has been part of for 50 years.


UPDATE: The lecture has been uploaded to YouTube:

     
     

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

‘NEW BOOK: Masonic Almanac’

     


The first volume of a collaboration of Mark Tabbert and John “Bo” Cline is available now!

(I get excited about these things.)

Almanac of American Freemasonry 1730-1774 is: “the listing and activities of every known Masonic lodge in North America from 1730 to 1774. This information is presented chronologically, by colony, and by chartering source.”

Get it through Lulu here.

Also from the publicity:


The information therein contained is unparalleled. Proceeds of the book will pay for new editions and the publication of Vol 2: 1775-1799 which is 50 percent completed.

Foreword by Shawn E. Eyer.

Contents:

  • Glossary of Terms, Abbreviations, and Contractions
  • Part One: Chronology of Masonic Events (1730 — 1774)
  • Part Two: Chronology of Lodges by Colony and Location
  • Part Three: Lodges in North America by Chartering Source
  • Part Four: Lodges in North America by Colony

Appendices:

  • British Military and Colonial Militia Lodges in North America
  • Lodges in Canada
  • Caribbean Lodges
  • Biographies of American Provincial Grand Masters
  • Famous American Freemasons
  • Bibliography
  • Alphabetical Listing of Lodges (1730-1774)


You know the authors. Bro. Mark Tabbert is the Director of Collections at the George Washington Masonic National Memorial in Alexandria, Virginia. He is a member of Quatuor Coronati Lodge 2076 in London, and is the author of several other books. And Mark was a member of the Masonic Society’s Board of Directors for a number of years. The late Bro. Bo Cline served as Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Alaska and then was the President of the Masonic Society from 2012 to 2014. We lost him to the Lodge on High last July. Bo was a great friend to have.
     

‘Help Wanted: decoding these symbols’

     
The frontispiece of a 200-year-old Masonic monitor, written by a New York City Brother, includes several symbols that elude me. Please use the comments section below if you have any ideas of the following:

Click to enlarge.

  • The crossed quills are standard, but what of those three crowns? The three GMs? But why with the quills?
  • The item below the quills?
  • I have no idea what that is to the right of the moon.
  • The chalice? Is that from a ritual beyond the three Craft degrees, or something still in use by English lodges?

The image quality is the best I can manage.

Click to enlarge.

Nothing in the pages of this substantial book explains the frontispiece.
     

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

‘Lodge culture discussion’

     


I have been remiss in keeping pace with the Meet, Act and Part podcast, having missed the previous eight or so episodes (When did they get the English guy to voice the intro and outro?), but I couldn’t skip yesterday’s episode.

Titled “Lodge Culture,” Episode 30 brought to the microphone Bro. Michael Arce, a warden in Mount Vernon Lodge 3 in Albany. Okay, I admit that’s why I listened. I’m a bit of a chauvinist regarding New York Freemasonry, and am interested in hearing from the brethren here.

As an aside, Mount Vernon 3 dates to February 21, 1765, so happy anniversary, brethren! It is the eldest lodge outside New York City.

Anyway, co-hosts Bill Hosler, Greg Knott, and Darin Lahners welcomed Arce for the nearly hour-long chat on the numerous and varied dynamics that comprise lodge culture. Of course we’re all familiar with the common tales of faltering lodges, but there can be remedies in certain—not all—situations. Maybe there’s an individual with Tom Brady-like star power who can inspire and lead, or perhaps a committed core group could execute a deliberate, longterm reform. The point is whatever it takes will depend on people and the relationships among them.

Listen to the four knowledgeable and experienced Freemasons here.
     

Sunday, February 21, 2021

‘Prince Hall: Founding Father’

     
And, speaking of Prince Hall (see post below), the March issue of The Atlantic features an article on the Masonic and Civil Rights legend.

Harvard University scholar Danielle Allen penned “A Forgotten Black Founding Father” as part of the magazine’s “Inheritance” essays on African-American history. She is a granddaughter of a Prince Hall Mason who aims to raise awareness of the life and work of the abolitionist and African Lodge founder. She first encountered Hall in history six years ago, and since has “made it a mission to teach others about him.”

She is exploring the feasibility of running for governor of Massachusetts.

You might balk at the claim Prince Hall has been “forgotten,” but I think she means he has not received the due recognition as an essential civic leader in the Founding. See what you think. Read all about it here.
     

‘Grant dollars to benefit grand lodge historic building’

     


The headquarters of the MW Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Georgia will be the beneficiary of grant funds to assist with renovations of the historic building.

The City of Atlanta is contributing $1.5 million, raised through a segment of property taxes allocated to help non-profit organizations. Additional funds are expected from other sources. The work is expected to be completed in August.

“The Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Georgia is excited to have the City of Atlanta’s support as we restore our historic home on Auburn Avenue,” said MW Corey D. Shackleford, Sr., Grand Master on the grand lodge website. “We look forward to doing our part to sustain the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., while educating the world about the vibrant, economically progressive Black community where he was born and raised.”

The result is expected to be a preserved 330 Auburn Avenue NE, where the brethren will continue to meet on the top floor, with various retail and other commercial tenants occupying the ground floor and second story.

The National Park Service will lease the basement and first floor areas to provide educational exhibits devoted to King and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.

Read more about the building and its great significance here. Read more about the project here.
     

Saturday, February 20, 2021

‘Gronning’s golden anniversary’

     


A happy fiftieth anniversary to my AMD council! On this date in 1971, J. William Gronning 83 was duly constituted under the auspices of the Grand Council of Allied Masonic Degrees of the United States of America.

This was before my time, y’understand, so I can’t speak to what happened or even who was there (although I would guess Thurman was present), but I surmise some of the brethren had returned home from AMD Weekend at the Hotel Washington in D.C. the previous week, where Grand Council hosted its annual meeting and issued our charter.

J. William Gronning
J. William Gronning was a prominent York Rite Mason from the area who served as MEGHP of the Grand Chapter of Royal Arch Masons in 1962. Remind me to tell you more about him some time.

I was tapped for membership in the invitational group in 2001; served in the East in 2003 (two years before I became Master of my Craft lodge); and even manned the Secretary’s desk for a stretch during the first decade of this century.

It’s hard to think of myself as one of the old timers, but the math supports the allegation. I’m still active, attending two of our quarterly meetings each year. Now I’m newly active with the Grand Council, having been asked to work as editor in chief of Allied Times, a long overdue national newsletter, initiated by MV Mohamad Yatim, to keep the brethren apprised of what’s going on. The first issue is in the works.

AMD membership had been a highly exclusive prize for many years. It took Grand Council nearly forty years to issue its 83rd charter—ours—in 1971. Today, fifty years since then, the number of charters issued in total is nearing 600. As the Masonic Order in America has been contracting precipitously in these recent decades, the number of these councils has proliferated unpredictably. The essential purpose of AMD is two-fold, one of those tasks is to present academic-like research, and I don’t have to tell you there are very few Masons doing that work these days. The growth makes no sense, but here we are.

I strongly doubt there will be a hundredth anniversary for Gronning Council, so I raise a glass to our fiftieth today. Cheers!
      

Friday, February 19, 2021

‘A Masonic menu for our return to lodge’

     

     
These are grim days on social media, but one cry of pain I saw on Farcebook yesterday tugs at the Naked Heart. A brother in England said he was dying for a Festive Board.

Perfectly normal. Perfectly understandable. Who knows how much longer it will be?

Something else I stumbled across a day or so ago in a Masonic Standard from 1903 is a humorous item about a recent dinner, to wit:


Masonic Menu

The Quarterly Bulletin of Cedar Rapids publishes the following bill of fare of a banquet given by Emulation Lodge 255 at Clinton, Iowa:

Oysters
(Silence and Circumspection)

Celery, Olives, Pickles,
Sliced Chicken
(The Faithful Breast)

Sliced Tongue
(The Instructive Tongue)

Potato Salad
(Oil of Joy)

Ham Sandwiches
(The Hidden Mysteries)

White and Brown Bread
(Corn of Nourishment)

Ice Cream
(Here Cold and Mute)

Cake, Fruit, Nuts, Coffee
(Wine of Refreshment)

Cigars
(Brought to Light)


I’ll have to remember that cigar line and work it into conversation.

That P-J ad at the top comes from an English Masonic periodical from the same era. Piper-Heidsieck is my own favorite label, but I wouldn’t decline a flute of Perrier-Jouet at table. It’s been so long, I would effuse joy and gladness for a cup of cold duck. Vivat!